Meijvogel-Volk about the Democracy in the Netherlands

After the defeat of the right-wing populist party PVV in the parliamentary elections in the Netherlands, many Europeans have been relieved. But in how far we might speak about a defeat at all, since the PVV gained five more seats in Parliament? We spoke to Tatjana Meijvogel-Volk from ProDemos – House for Democracy and the Rule of Law about the elections results and their effect to the work of civil society platforms like NECE.

A shot of the flags of the EU and the Netherlands. (© picture-alliance/dpa, Daniel Reinhardt)

NECE: To what extent is the election result in the Netherlands a success on which the Dutch democracy can rest?

Tatjana Meijvogel-Volk: Critical reflections on democracy might never rest. But we at ProDemos do not enter into any grading concerning existing political parties. Our work empowers citizens, giving them adequate knowledge and skills to judge on content and people in the political arena themselves.

NECE: In recent years, populist parties and their followers have seen a sharp increase in many European countries, also in the Netherlands. Well, ProDemos is committed to democracy and the rule of law in the Netherlands as well as internationally. To what extent has your work been influenced by the effect of the populists?

Tatjana Meijvogel-Volk: Working in the area of citizenship education is in all times challenging job. Populistic discussions in society might make citizenship education on first sight more difficult. But on the other hand you might conclude as well, that sharp discussion and controversial issues also might work out as a ‘wake up call’ for citizens. The electoral turn out at the Parliamentarian elections in the Netherlands were now quite high (80%). That fact is something which we at ProDemos deem as important, independent from the possible outcome.

NECE: Last but not least, provocative statements from the Turkish government against the Netherlands have caused controversies in your country and Europe also. How can we – as actors of citizenship education – help to find a way out the situation? What should civil society platforms like NECE do now?

Tatjana Meijvogel-Volk: One thing might be intergovernmental controversies and behaviours of politicians which we see as ‘not-done’. I do not think that civil society platforms should give too explicit their opinion on such phenomena. But we have the opportunity to build (trans-nationally) bridges between civil societies and their actors. In that sense we should be open towards civil society organizations from Turkey to join NECE. We could invite representatives from Turkish NGO’s more explicitly. Also in the past it was NECE tradition to strengthen civil society in different countries in difficult times. That might be the right approach looking at the current situation in Turkish society.
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